A toxic waste of space

One of the millstones around the neck of Plaid Cymru while Ieuan Wyn Jones has been leader has been nuclear power. The party is unequivocally opposed to nuclear power, but Ieuan was personally in favour of it.

But at least Ieuan was honest about the situation. He realized that his position was at odds with that of the party, even though it made things awkward, embarrassing even, whenever he was questioned on the subject; instead of being able to give a straight answer to the question, he had to give complicated answers that compromised him and made it look as if Plaid's policy on the issue wasn't clear. It's hardly surprising, because most other parties have policies that are determined by the leadership, rather than by party members.

So the very last thing Plaid Cymru needs is another leader who will not be able to give straight and unequivocal answers about nuclear energy.


Nuclear energy was one of the subjects that came up on the CF99 leadership debate yesterday evening. I think it's well known that both Leanne Wood and Elin Jones are against nuclear energy, but that Dafydd Elis-Thomas is in favour of it. But what I found disturbing was Dafydd's intervention to jump down Elin's throat when she made the simple statement that not only she, but that Plaid Cymru as a party, was opposed to nuclear power.


He interrupted her with a rather petulant, "Well you'll lose Ynys Môn if you carry on talking like that, I have to say." Then tried to interrupt her again later.

How can anyone in Plaid contemplate having a leader that not only holds a position which is completely opposite to party policy, but one who is completely unapologetic about it and openly dismisses something that has been democratically decided by the party's membership? At least Ieuan was principled enough to acknowledge Plaid's position on the issue was at odds with his own.

Dafydd clearly does not share the same principles. He's just shown us that if he gets to be leader all we'll ever hear from him are his own personal views, rather than those of the party he is meant to represent.

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Unknown said...

I personally believe in Nucelar power, especially the next generation of reactors using thorium, which is safe, though I don't think Wales need it at the moment, so it is a debate that can be put off for 50 years.

But I do agree that DET was very un-gracious in his bullying, trying to present himself as the Grand old Man. And, Dafydd, we have already lost ynys môn at Westminster. He was also very ambiguous about independence, suggesting he wanted to see a stronger Wales within the UK and repeating his tired mantra of interdependence. He is going back on his recantation of his post conference TV appearance. He makes my flesh creep.

For me, by far the most assured performance came form Leanne in her second language. The way she dealt with the meeting Mrs Windsor question was effortlessly brilliant. I hope we have a re-match in English fairly soon.

Unknown said...

. . oh and DET tired to insult Leanne's principled stance on royalty as well. Ychafi!

Lyndon said...

I don't have much time for DET, and I'm certainly not going to vote for him, but on this issue he is quite correct.

Mamwlad said...

DET is an arrogant bully; however, he’s also a very cleaver fox in the political world, a seasoned survivor, how else could a ‘lord’ survive in a nationalist party. Even if he loses the leadership election he will still have a lot of influence within the party, scheming and pulling strings behind the scenes to achieve his aims.

Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

His Lordship seems to consider it his right to assume the leadership, as well as determine all Party policy by baronial fiat. Methinks he'll find himself face down in the caca when the poll result is announced.

MH said...

Quite right, Siônnyn. We don't hold Ynys Môn in Westminster. And it's also probably fair to say that the reason Ieuan has held the seat at Assembly level is more to do with his personal standing than anything especially good about Plaid Cymru on the island. Plaid is terribly badly organized in a number of places like these, that's why we only won 8 out of 40 seats in the last local elections. Ieuan has held the seat because he's Ieuan, not because he's Plaid.

This highlights the parochialism of a large strand within Plaid Cymru: a misplaced emphasis on local issues at the expense of the broader national picture. I think we loose far more votes in other parts of Wales because of this. If we're ever to be seen as being a serious national party for the whole of Wales we have to ditch this parochialism. We have to decide whether we want to be a party of Ynys Môn and Gwynedd, or a party for the whole of Wales.


I know we disagree on the rights and wrongs of nuclear energy, and the point I was making wasn't to reopen that issue. It was to point to the childishness of the way DET conducted himself. Just look at his body language in the clip, it says everything.

What might surprise you, though, is that I am not against nuclear per se. My argument has always been that it is a highly expensive technology that Wales doesn't need. We can generate more than all the electricity Wales needs without it. Other countries aren't so fortunate. A country like England has a very large population relative to its size and therefore doesn't have the same natural energy resources as we do. So for them, it's a different matter and a much harder choice.

I would not be so much against fast reactors. They don't have to be fuelled by thorium; they can use existing nuclear waste, and are one way of solving the problem of the nuclear waste we're already stuck with. George Monbiot wrote a good piece on it only last week. But this is not what is being proposed at present for Wylfa B. Dafydd is hopelessly naïve in supporting the current proposal, just as he was similarly naïve when he boasted about never having opposed a wind turbine anywhere. He lacks any sense of proportion or judgement, which is an exceptionally dangerous flaw in a potential leader. Even more ridiculously, he now supports building another nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd. We don't need the energy from one nuclear power station, let alone two almost next door to each other!

maen_tramgwydd said...

I commented more generally on the S4C programme under the previous topic, 'A clear direction of travel'.

I'm against nuclear fission reactors which produce highly toxic waste products and are a long-term hazard to people and to the environment.

The UK has failed to find a solution to the waste already produced by the first generation Magnox reactors. It is currently stored in huge tanks at Sellafield, and is a serious problem which we are handing to our children and grandchildren.

Moreover, it is a dangerous technology. There have been several serious, even disastrous accidents, worldwide, including one in the UK. History teaches us that if something can go wrong, it will. Post Fukushima, Germany and other countries have wisely decided to abandon the it.

It's the failure of successive UK governments to prepare which has landed us in the almost impossible position that we're in, of having insufficient generating resources which meet low carbon standards.

As you say, Mike, Wales is in the happy position that we can do without nuclear. If Wylfa B and Trawsfynnydd B go ahead (as per DET) we're stuck with them for over forty years. The capacity will be transmitted to the English conurbations as it isn't needed in Wales.

What DET is saying is...'never mind the problems, the dangers, the cost, the waste, the blight, the deadly inheritance we hand down to our kids, let's hold on to our seat in Anglesey, by buying it with a few jobs'.

It is unprincipled, disgraceful, pathetic even. It shows the man for what he is and it does Plaid no favours. Elin and Leanne, to their credit, stated their own and the party's stance, Doing so led to DET's petulant interruption.

That kind of politics is best left to the unionist parties which don't give a fig about Wales or its people.

Gwalchmei said...

Nuclear power is a hot potato and should be treated with caution.
We have a range of greener energy sources to draw on in Wales and that should be our focus. We don’t need to go down the nuclear road at the moment.
It’s all to do with public sensibilities, particularly with respect to safety issues. How can we trust a technology we don’t control?
Welsh jobs are important as well, and we must support those workers who are at present in that industry in Wales.
In the right hands nuclear energy can provide for us. It could provide safe green energy, although, as always, it is all to do with who owns and controls this resource.
But for now, maybe we should be advocating the greener options.

Anonymous said...

MH continues his witch hunt against "thought crimes". Nobody is allowed to have their own opinions in Plaid, all must slavishly follow the approved way of thinking as approved by MH. If not, he will try to have you thrown out of the party.

I fully support Leanne Wood as Leader - she's our very own Iain Duncan Smith and will lead us all to electoral disaster as we attempt to appeal to everyone in Wales to the left of Labour, thus reaffirming that Plaid is really a middle-class Welsh version of the Socialist Workers Party — only without a fluent Welsh speaker at the helm, we'll lose Ynys Môn and Gwynedd anyway. The dark years beckon... but at least MH will be happy.

Anonymous said...

Plaid Cymru policy: independence for Wales
Leanne and Elin: independence for Wales
DET: post-nationalism / devolution in Europe / fudge

Plaid Cymru policy: no new nuclear plants
Leanne and Elin: no new nuclear plants
DET: would like to see two new nuclear plants.

I'm not saying it is wrong for DET to have those views, but surely he's the wrong man to lead Plaid Cymru with those views. Has he mixed up and think he's standing to be the leader of Welsh Labour?!

Iwan Rhys

Anonymous said...

For a party like Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats, I disagree that we cannot have a leader that is 'at odds' with the party on 'minor issues'. For the Greens, nuclear would not be minor but for Plaid and the LD's it is.

Otherwise any motion passed at conference is effectively changing a leaders point of view.

It is for this reason that I believe IWJ's stance was the ideal. He recognised the party was at odds, but he went the other way. I have no problem with this, and would have no problem with having a leader like this again. For as long as that person emphasises the party is at odds.

The way DEL went wrong was that he dismissed not only Elin but the party's viewpoint also. Although I agree with him, this is wrong and IWJ could teach him a few things!

He came across badly on CF99- very nasty towards Elin, and I wonder if anything has happened?

Elin did pretty well. However the one thing I question with Leanne is that she WOULD now attend the opening of the Assembly because she is leader. I don't remember 'the party' deciding that we agree with a monarchy, we've only decided that a referendum should be held on it post independence. Therefore on this point I agree with Daf El - I'm sure there are more "Royalists" in her region than there are in Plaid.

As for 15.45 - he brings an interesting point. I too think Leanne will be 50/50. She will either lead us to electoral success SNP like. Or it will be a disaster. However I think it is a risk worth taking as both DEL/Elin Jones will keep the party in "fourth gear", Leanne has the potential to take us into "sixth gear".

P.S Why bother debating Nuclear- it's decided in Westminster anyway!

Anonymous said...

Anon 15:45

Who then are you advocating we vote for?

Last May's election was a 'disaster' for Plaid, ending a decade where its support had already declined. We were fortunate it wasn't worse, in my opinon. Plaid has ended up behind the Tories.

We have to choose the best candidate for reversing that. That entails balancing the strengths and weaknesses of all three.

At least give us your positive reasons for supporting another candidate, else all we can do is dismiss your comment as a rant - which it clearly is.

MH said...

Isn't saying, "Why bother debating nuclear - it's decided in Westminster anyway" a bit like saying, "Why bother debating the economy - it's controlled by Westminster"?

The whole point of our existence as a party is for decisions about Wales to be made in Wales.

Anonymous said...

Did we all watch the same program last night? All I talk to say DET came out on top.
Come the next British General Election, with the Plaid Leader invited to at least one of the Question times, Which of the three would stand up to Cameron, Clegg and Millband best? DET wins hands down. Therefore it has got to be DET 1

MH said...

I don't like being called Mike, MT. Prefer Michael.


And it's always nice to see an anonymous comment from Dafydd. Everyone's entitled to their own views, and they're free to express them ... but why on earth would someone with such strident pro-nuclear views want to lead a party which has consistently confirmed that it is against nuclear power in Wales?

I want a leader who can represent and speak for our party; someone who can effectively communicate what we believe, why we believe it ... and why people should vote for us because of it.

Why should I or any other member vote for someone who thinks their own personal views are more important than those of the party membership as a whole?

Anonymous said...

MH I've never understood this point:

"We don't need the energy from one nuclear power station, let alone two almost next door to each other!"

We don't need all the aircraft wings manufactured by Airbus, or car engines by Ford either. They give us something to export, and bring in cash don't they?

Anonymous said...

Anon 16:38

"Which of the three would stand up to Cameron, Clegg and Millband best? DET wins hands down."

If his behaviour with Mrs Windsor is anything to go by, he'd be too busy bowing and scraping.

I want someone who will stand up for Wales and its people, not someone who stands up for himself.

On QT you wouldn't see Wales, all you'd see is DET.

Anonymous said...

This about sums up DET, and why he shouldn't be leading a nationalist party:

"Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has hit back at Lord Elis-Thomas following the National Assembly Presiding Officer's recent criticism of nationalism in the UK.

In an interview with the ePolitix.com web site, former Plaid Cymru president Lord Elis-Thomas said his own party and the SNP were 'betraying their voters' by pursuing an 'independence agenda at the cost of a governance agenda'.

Lord Elis-Thomas said, 'In my view Plaid Cymru never adjusted to being elected to the National Assembly and followed it through and has understood its context. Having said that I could argue the SNP in Scotland are in an even worse situation.'

Now the SNP leader, who has recently resumed the post he relinquished in 2000, has told the same web site that as a result he had suggested a 'new form of words' to the ex-Plaid leader.

Mr Salmond said, 'At the opening of the new Scottish Parliament building I gave Dafydd a new form of words. What he should say is that Wales is aspiring to a position of equality with other European nations.

'I was amused by the Scottish press who ran the piece just before our conference and they said 'Dafydd Elis-Thomas doesn't believe in independence anymore'.

'Well he never believed in independence anyway.'

When asked whether there was any merit in Lord Elis-Thomas's arguments, Mr Salmond said, 'Most of the criticism of the SNP actually comes from those who say we have lost sight of the vision of an independent Scotland by getting involved in devolution and getting wrapped up in the day-to-day running of politics.

'We have to do both. Where I disagree with my distinguished colleague is that you have to have a successful national party. You have to have a vision of independence galvanising support and the promise of what independence can deliver linked to a social and economic vision that you want to deliver. The job of the SNP is not to substitute the constitutional debate with the social and economic debate or vice versa. On the contrary but to link the two.'"


Anonymous said...

This blog is full of anti DET comments, nothing positive about any of the candidates. I can only assume he must have done some thing horrible to some of you in a previous life. Where as I have only met him in this life. And last night he was the best of the 3.

Anonymous said...

No, what DET is doing is horrible in THIS LIFE.

MH said...

Two differences, 16:43. First is that electricity generally needs to be consumed as it is produced, and there are considerable losses in transmitting it over long distances. If the electricity is needed in England, it is better for it to be produced in England, closer to the places where it will be consumed. Isn't it amazing that people kick up a fuss over transmission lines in mid Wales, seemingly not realizing how much more transmission capacity would be needed to link these new nuclear power stations to the major population centres of England?

Second, there is no real risk involved in manufacturing. It is no accident that the UK's nuclear power stations were positioned in remote areas as far away as possible from where the electricity was needed. They are in areas that were considered expendable in the event of a nuclear accident. I wouldn't want to over-emphasize the risks, because they are low. But they are only low if a huge amount of money is spent keeping them low; not just in safety terms but increasingly in security terms as well. But no matter how low the risk is, it is not zero, and the consequences of an accident could be catastrophic. Why should Wales take this risk?

If the answer is jobs, then why do they have to be these particular jobs? Far fewer billions could be spent to far greater effect. Just clearing up the mess left by Wylfa A will provide jobs for decades to come.

Anonymous said...

Anon 17:06

"..last night he was the best of the 3"

It would help if you explained why you thought he came out best.

He is very articulate, more so in Welsh than English, as is Elin. It would not be fair to judge Leanne on that basis alone. After all, the leader will be appealing to the entire electorate, the majority of whom don't speak Welsh.

Being articulate is important in politics, but more important is what one believes, what one says and what one does.

The foundation must be underpinned with qualities such as sincerity, truthfulness, honesty, trust etc. These are woefully lacking in many politicians.

I ask myself which of the three exhibits most of the above. I think it's not too difficult to rank them, and I try to do it objectively and fairly. To me, one excels, another does well, whilst I'm not impressed with the third.

Neilyn said...

Minor point MH, but I'm fairly sure DET said "We're going to lose Ynys Mon if WE carry on talking like that, I have to say". Less personal perhaps, but unhelpful to the image of Plaid as a growing force in Welsh politics that a prospective leader is choosing to make his disagreement with party policy public knowledge at this stage. If the majority opinion and hence policy (for the foreseeable future) is against, then he should have the good grace to accept that.

Draig said...

To go back to MH's earliest comment - I agree that there is a strong parochial - even tribal streak in Plaid - it's probably true to a greater or lesser extent of Labour as well.

But I think to build trust you have to start with local issues, for the simple reason that if the general public takes any kind of interest in politics, it usually starts with local issues.

There are some issues where it is possible to link local AND National - the Local Development Plan is a good example of this, where nationwide housing targets set by WAG are causing considerable unrest in many local communities across Wales.

A national campaign for Plaid?

Anonymous said...

Why isn't DET telling the 250,000 people in RCT that they are paying £30 on their electric bill in nuclear levees so Wylfa can export energy to England at below cost ? I'm sorry, but a leader of a political party has to rise above a temporary construction bonus for one area, and represent the whole nation. DET come across a 'native' colonial governor. If he was in India prior to independence he'd be arguing in favour of the necessary tea plantations for his patch and bidding for a position in the Raj. Ooops, he is.

Anonymous said...

This blog is turning into a massive Leanne Wood circle-jerk.
An away-with-the-fairies socialist, ideologically driven Plaid Cymru as it will become under Leanne will destroy whatever is left of Plaid. At least you lot will be happy with the ideological purity...

Anonymous said...

the people bleating about DET "bullying" EJ need to face the fact that she is too weak to handle herself well in a deabte like this. it was evident in her abysmal appearance on QT and you had the same sort of bleating then. feeling sorry for someone in a debate isn't a positive indicator of their debating credentials in my view. if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen...

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